Learning and adapting to a new way of working

In this term’s newsletter we share how the iRead project partners have been adapting their practices so that they can continue to work with teachers and students. We share insights from our project evaluation meetings which have given us the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from each other’s experiences in these unprecedented times. We also bring you the latest in our ‘ask the teachers’ blog series and share information about an exciting new free app for teachers from our project partner Pickatale.

Sending warm wishes from all the iRead project team over this difficult period. We hope you have a healthy and restful holiday break and look forward to bringing you more updates later in the spring term…

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Restarting the pilot study

In our last newsletter, we reported on how partners across Europe were planning for a school year like no other. Our team report on some of the adaptations they’ve made to continue being able to work with schools.

In the UK, we made a number of significant changes including holding all teacher training sessions online and producing a series of short ‘how to’ videos to offer online resources for getting started. In the picture below (left), members of the UCL team take a one-off trip to the lab to carry out essential software updates before reassigning new tablets to schools. We also spotted a wonderful outdoor book display (right) during a socially distanced tablet drop-off school visit!

In Greece, we have experienced schools closure from early in the season. We had to limit school visits but continued to provide online and telephone support to teachers. Where possible, students have used the project tablets at home and we have provided additional support to our partner schools on responding to the pandemic as well as supporting some of the students directly at home.

In Spain, we have been running teacher training sessions to encourage the use of the Teacher Tool. We are fortunate that most schools are mostly continuing to involve the same teachers as last year. We have held the sessions over ‘Meet’ and this has worked well by demoing how to use the teacher tool then practicing how to use the tool.

In Sweden, as autumn term began, schools continued to use the project apps. We conducted workshops to provide extra support to the teachers for the new academic year in two of our participating schools. A new school also joined the project (picture below)! As schools closed access for outsiders, we managed to visit one class via zoom in order to see how students use the games and to provide technical support to teachers.

iRead consortium meeting on the evaluation phase

Throughout October and November 2020, partners involved in the iRead pilot studies met online to share their experiences and learn from each other’s practices.

Technology use at home – The first meeting was coordinated by Kay Berkling from DHBW in Germany. Kay shared how their team had taken the decision to enable children to access the game at home in light of school closures. From the outset, children have learned how to look after the project tablets and carry out necessary tasks, such as charging, logging into the game and how to access help when needed. 

Teacher professional development – The next meeting was led by Laura Benton from UCL and reflected on the professional development approach we have taken during the project. Partners shared what worked well and some of the challenges they have faced. This highlighted the importance of building good relationships with our partner schools and tailoring the training to their specific needs as well as providing ongoing support.

To celebrate our recent ‘Hungry Little Minds’ quality mark award from the Department for Education in England, we organised three interactive Facebook Live events for both parents and children.

Our first two events were led by our UCL research team and provided guidance for parents looking to use high-quality readings apps with their children at home including specific advice for supporting children with dyslexia.

We were joined by children for our final session who quizzed fish in a bottle game developers Drew and Tom about what it’s like to design games as a job.

Analysing data from teacher interviews –  At the third meeting, Seray Ibrahim shared how researchers from the UCL team in the UK had begun analysing parts of the evaluation study data by focusing on the coding process and early insights. It was interesting to hear how teachers in different settings were facing similar and different challenges. For example, teachers reported that pressures on time, game design and teaching approaches all impacted on how they used the technologies in the classroom. 

Evaluation study research questions – Our last meeting considered the research questions we are trying to answer through our evaluation study and was facilitated by Ylva Hard af Segerstad from University of Gothenburg. Through our discussions we refined these questions to ensure they were clearly worded as these will guide our upcoming teacher interview analysis to better understand how our technologies can be successfully embedded within the classroom as well as scaled up within and across schools. 

Ask the teachers across Europe – blog series

As we have reached the end of the year, we thought it would be a good opportunity to see how some of our iRead schools have been using the iRead apps within their classes.

In the third of this blog series, Vicky Berkson from Grafton Primary School in the UKdescribes how the school first became involved in the design stage when trialling the apps with a group of Year 4 and 5 pupils. After positive reactions from children, the apps were also introduced more widely across the school. Vicky explains that there is a varied approach to how Navigo game and Amigo reader are used in different classes. One Year 3 class uses the apps as whole class while the other Year 3 class and Year 4 classes are using both apps with smaller groups of pupils. Vicky concludes that integrating the apps with the curriculum has been a success.

In the fourth of this blog series, Christos Skarkos5th Grade Teacher at Vivlos Primary School in Greece, talks about the use of the iRead technologies in all sections of the school. Christos shares that the teacher tool is used to adapt the content of the activities so that they were appropriate for different classes. Christos also identifies the capability of iRead technologies to assign individualized tasks as very useful with for students who have recently moved to Greece and have not sufficiently mastered the Greek language. Reflecting on the use of iRead applications so far, Christos states that students have been very satisfied with the environment, the level and the type of activities on offer.

A huge thanks to all teachers involved for sharing such valuable insights! Stay tuned for more teacher blogs after the New Year.

Read for free with Pickatale!

iRead partner Pickatale are happy to announce the launch of Pickatale for Schools, a FREE reading tool for teachers and young learners. This unique library of books helps to build reading confidence in students and makes reading fun!

Sign up for free today to get access to:

  • Hundreds of fun fiction and non-fiction school-related books
  • Phonics and quizzes to aid comprehension
  • Audio and narration to support reading practice
  • Live teacher dashboard and reporting

Teachers can also assign homework and school tasks via their own teacher dashboard, and the students will get notified once they have logged into their Pickatale for Schools account. Click here to find out more!

In other news…

Thank You!

Last but not least we would like to acknowledge the important contribution that teachers and pupils from the following schools have made to the iRead project over the last term:



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